Pathway to Solar Thermal for Coal-Fired Collinsville

The Australian Government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) Emerging Renewables Program, will invest in a feasibility study that is investigating the conversion of Collinsville Power Station into a hybrid gas/solar thermal plant.

The Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP, today announced the Australian Government will contribute $2.5 million towards a RATCH-Australia Corporation Limited initiated feasibility study.

The study, with a total cost of $5.6 million, will assess the viability of converting Queensland’s 180 MW coal-fired Collinsville Power Station to a 30 MW hybrid solar thermal/gas power station with the help of ARENA.

A key benefit of the project will be the production of knowledge that will help accelerate the deployment of concentrating solar thermal in Australia through hybrid projects.

“The results of the study will be made publically available in order to assist interested parties overcome the challenges of early deployment of concentrating solar thermal,” Minister Ferguson said.

“Such information will include the overall technical feasibility of converting thermal coal fired power stations to solar thermal plants, its costs, the solar yield, network connection and other issues.”

“RATCH is aiming to use, where possible, existing plant infrastructure, which would generate significant cost savings relative to the costs of constructing a new plant.

“The feasibility study will help other generators to assess the possibility of using solar thermal technologies at coal-fired plants.”

The University of Queensland will contribute to the feasibility study through a research program that investigates the potential early stage operation and any commissioning issues.

RATCH will examine the feasibility of using Novatec Solar’s Linear Fresnel Solar Thermal technology to generate steam to be used in a steam turbine at the Collinsville Power Station.

The Measure is due for completion in 2015.

Minister Ferguson also announced further funding, through ARENA, for three solar research projects. The funding will support:

  • the development of best practice community consultation guidelines to help in the construction of large-scale solar projects
  • the adaptation of a model that assesses the viability of concentrating solar power systems to suit Australian market conditions
  • an investigation into community owned solar business models to allow more people to be involved in renewable energy projects in the future.

Each project aims to improve the uptake of solar energy technologies in the future and forms a part of the Australian Government’s $17 billion commitment to the development and deployment of clean energy technologies.

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